Thursday, May 31, 2007

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Fluffy

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Sorry, nothing interesting comes to mind this evening, so I will attempt to entertain you with my amazing photography...


Fluffy


Portrait


Snapple! (Israeli Edition)


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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

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News You Probably Missed: Leopard Attack in Israel

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Here's an article I dismissed initially because of the title...

A man wrestled a wild leopard to the floor and pinned it for 20 minutes after the cat leapt through a window of his home and hopped onto the bed with his sleeping family, in kibbutz Sde Boker, located in the Negev desert in southern Israel.

Raviv Shapira, who heads the southern district of the Israel Nature and Parks Protection Authority, said a half dozen leopards have been spotted recently near kibbutz Sde Boker in the Negev desert in southern Israel, although they rarely threaten humans. Leopards living near humans are usually too old to hunt in the wild and resort to chasing down domestic dogs and cats for food, he added.

Du Mosch said he probably would not have been able to control the big cat were it in better health.
- Yahoo News/AP

Whoa. Wild leopards leaping through your window in Southern Israel. And kol hakovod to the man for protecting his family. And B"H, safely.

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It's Raining in Israel

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

I chatted with Reb Nati a few minutes ago. He said, "It was raining last night. Heavy rain, thunderstorms, just like in Florida."

Raining. In Israel. In the Shomron (West Bank) & Jerusalem area. In May.

It doesn't do that in Israel. It usually doesn't rain past March, never past April. Never. It literally never rains in Israel from Spring until Winter. At all. Never.

The rains of winter are usually gentle, a constant annoying drizzle. Sometimes heavier, briefly. That's the rains of Israel. 2 months of cold drizzle. Those are the rains of blessing, watering the land, the crops, the fields, filling the aquifers and the Kinneret.

A hard rain in May is not a rain of blessing... I am not so wise as to interpret current events and come to an understanding of what's going on. But, some things can't be ignored.

  • Sderot, under daily fire (average 12 missiles a day!). And some opine...run away, abandon the land. After all, it's not Tel Aviv.

  • Government approves the 2007 Jerusalem (Same-Gender-Oriented) Pride Parade. Yes, that's right, once again the holy city is targeted for an intense demonstration of the opposite.

  • Ministry of Tourism presents: Campaign (mature content link) specifically to bring GLBT visitors to Israel.

I don't even know what to say. I mean, I didn't even mention Labor Party elections where they focused on how to stay in power and make 'peace' with Hamas. Not protect the citizens of Israel, and certainly not to protect Jewish towns, cities, Judaism in the country, or holy sites.

Rabbi Brody has a good bit to say about it here, as does Nava at Dreaming (from whom I borrowed the picture above).

G-d willing, once I've had a little time to think it through and converse with a few people, we'll come up with a spiritual battle plan in response.

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Warming Up

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

...an analogy of a person in a cold room. There are 3 ways to maintain body temperature: he can put on a warm coat, he can leave the room to escape to a warmer environment, or he can light a fire. ...in a (spiritually) cold environment, ones integrity can be preserved by these 3 methods.

He can put on a warm coat, strengthening himself inwardly so as not to be influenced by his surroundings. This, however, is an incomplete victory, for if he were to relax his self-control he would capitulate.

He can leave the room, which implies seperating himself from the negative influences surroundign him. Once again, this victory is only because he has removed himself from temptation...

Lighting a fire involves influencing the environment and raising it to a higher level. This is a complete truimph over one's surroundings, for the dangers have not only been avoided, they ahve been removed entirely.


- Tending the Garden, Weisberg.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

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Sharing Light

by Gutman Locks of the Old City, Jerusalem, Israel at Mystical Paths

In this week’s portion of the Torah, Moshe told God that his burden was too great. He could not take it anymore. With all of the troubles that being a leader of the Jewish People brings, he needed help!

God said, “Gather to Me seventy men from the elders of Israel, . . . and I will awtzel from the spirit that is upon you and place it upon them and they will share the burden of the people with you, and you will not bear alone.” [i]

The question is, what did God actually do to the spirit that He had already placed on Moshe?

The root of the word for what He did is awtzel. If it were nozal, as it seems it should be, there would be no question, for nozal means “to take away from,” “to deliver” or “to snatch away.” This would seem to fit the meaning of the Torah here; God “took away” from the spirit that He had previously put on Moshe and gave it to the seventy elders.

But that is not the root of the word. The root meaning of awzel is “to reserve,” “to set aside,” or “to select.” One commentator[ii] goes even further with this idea and states that awtzel here means that God increased the spirit that was upon Moshe. Another commentator [iii] states that like a candle that shares its flame with another wick, after that second wick is lighted, still the first candle loses nothing. This means that Moshe lost nothing when he shared his spirit with the seventy elders.

When you bring an unlighted wick next to one that is burning, look closely at them and you will see that both of these commentaries are correct. When the flame spreads to the new wick, it increases onto the new wick but it also increases the original flame. Also, when you bring one lighted flame close to another lighted flame, they will lean toward each other and join to make a greater flame than they were making alone.

What is the practical application of this? The Talmud says, “From my students have I learned the most.”[iv] When you share your understanding of Torah with another person, whether with a student or a learning partner, not only will you not lose anything (as one commentator said), but also you will actually increase your understanding and your spiritual share (as the other commentator said).

Your understanding will increase because you will have to understand the subject better in order to teach it to someone who does not understand it, or by delving into it with your friend.

Your spiritual position also will increase, not merely because your understanding of Torah increased, but because you helped another person to increase too. His life will be improved because you shared with him, and so will yours. You will you reap the benefits of having helped someone grow, and the One Who looks down from above is going to see you serving Him and will give you the opportunity to do it again.

[i] Num 11:17
[ii] Onkelos
[iii] Rashi Num 11:17
[iv] Tannis 7a

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Sderot: Situation Video

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

A friend sent this video from Sderot, worth seeing. Also, SderotMedia has a large selection of video's and interviews from Sderot.



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Monday, May 28, 2007

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Shemittah

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

This coming Jewish year is a shemittah year, the great mitzvah of 7 year cycle of resting the land in Israel.

The Muqata has a post on Produce Options for Those In Israel. If you live in Israel, take the time to read it.

He also notes, this is the 7th Shemittah since modern Israel has existed. That's the 7th cycle of the 7 year cycle.

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Do Not Be Like Fish

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

(The 6th of the 10 commandments) states: "Do not murder," and regarding creation, states, "The waters shall team with living creatures."

Do not kill a man, who is also called "a living creature" (Bereshis 2:7). And do not be like fish, the larger of which swallows the smaller.


- Zohar 3-11b

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Shame

A Baal Teshuvah (a chozeh b'tshuva, a Jewish person who became or returned to observant Judaism) had a huge graphic tattoo on his arm...a symbol of his dark past that he tried to hide with all his ability. (Tattoo's are prohibited in Judaism.) He would avoid any situation in which it might get exposed.

It was erev Yom Kippur (before Yom Kippur) and everyone was going to the mikvah, which he didn't want to deprive himself of. He planned to go at a time when it would be least crowded and keep a towel around his arm until the very last moment, then enter and exit very quickly. When he got there, it was unfortunately still very crowded, and he could feel the anxiety swelling inside.

He decided to continue, but the tile floor was wet and he was in too much of a hurry. He slipped in a dramatic way, drawing everyone's attention, and the bustling room was suddenly deathly silent as his worst fear was realized. He was paralyzed with shame.

Suddenly, a Jewish elder picked him off the floor by the hand. He showed him the numbers the Nazis (may their name be blotted out) had etched onto his arm and said, "This was my hell, probably that was yours. Let's go into the Mikvah together."


- from the stories of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, zt"l

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

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Book Review: The Yiddish Policemen's Union

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

The Yiddish Policemen's Union, by Michael Chabon, is a fiction book that's appropriate for bathroom reading, for which it was picked up. It's currently #4 on the NY Times Best Seller list (Hardcover Fiction).

The book starts out with an unpleasant alternate reality premise... the Israel war of independence was lost, the Jews in Israel were booted out, the refugee's of the Holocaust had no where to go, and the US set aside a small territory as a temporary Jewish haven. In Alaska.

Which has little to do with what the story is about, but sets a weird background for an average dirty grimy detective story. A down and out police detective, he's a drunk, he's divorced, he's living in a hotel who's other occupants are all petty criminals, finds a neighbor who's been murdered. And naturally, he investigates.

But the background, a modern day Jewish refugee camp ala the "Palestinian" refugee camps of Lebanon (which are their own cities), gives the author an opportunity to insult, make fun of, and especially degrade, zionists, orthodox Jews, chassidic Jews, and Judaism in general.

It's a world that's the seedy side of Brooklyn, but 100% Jews. It's language of the 'hood', but with all 'hood' terminology replaced with Yiddish words.

And, as far as I can tell, it's primary purpose is to show that zionists are plotters and thieves, chassidim are criminals and fools, orthodox Jews are ignoramuses, oh and that chassidim are either criminals or fools (or occasionally both). (Yes, I know I wrote that twice.) Special mention is made of the foolishness of belief in Moshiach and manipulation through messianic fervor.

Besides all that, the style of writing is poor, making the book a difficult read besides being an unpleasant one. Unfortunately, it's a quality printed book. Unfortunate, because otherwise it would be useful as either scrap paper or toilet paper.

Rating: Zevel. But it's #4 on the NY Times Bestseller list.

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US Training Fatah Terrorists

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

U.S. finally admits it...

As violence raged this week in the Gaza Strip..., US officials stressed the importance of American efforts to bolster (Fatah) forces ... and said further help was necessary.

"This chaotic situation is why the USSC [United States security coordinator] is focused on the legal, legitimate security forces in our attempts to reestablish law and order," said Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, the USCC working with the Palestinians, in testimony Wednesday before the House Subcommittee on the Middle East.

The State Department has in the past denied that America's non-lethal training of ... Fatah.. But at the hearing Dayton highlighted the US role in helping Fatah... Congress recently allowed $59 million to be used to further ... training ... Fatah.
- (Source)

Good Terrorist vs Bad Terrorist? Because Fatah is good and never does things like kill Jews or murder Americans. Until they do. (Every Palestinian attack on Americans has been via Fatah.)

UPDATE: Well, that didn't take long... "Fatah Claims Jerusalem Shooting Attack" (IsraelNN) - Israeli-Arab Fatah terrorists attacked Israeli security forces near Jerusalem’s Armon HaNetziv neighborhood Saturday evening... One officer was wounded critically and a security guard moderately. Were they carrying US supplied weapons? Were they US trained?

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Friday, May 25, 2007

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Sderot: Quick Erev Shabbat Updates

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Ongoing live updates from Sderot, Israel, which has been under heavy constant bombardment from the Arabs in Gaza. This report from 5pm Israel Time, 10am US time. From an IM chat with Shlomo Wollins of IsraelReporter.Com, who lives in Sderot and has not evacuated.

The holiday was isolated...and interrupted. Missiles and alerts. So far, it's been 220 missiles in 9 days. That's one every hour for one week.

Shabbat Shalom...has become a memory.

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Chickens. Roosting. Realization.

The Perpetual Refugee of Lebanon. (some mature language)

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What You Give Away You Keep

by Reb Gutman Locks of the Old City, Jerusalem, Israel at Mystical Paths

We see from the priests’ blessing what they are to do for us, but what are we to do for the priests? We are to give them their share of the sacrifices and of all of our gains. But the most interesting thing about what we give them is that although it is theirs to do with as they please, the truth is, it is really still ours!

“A man’s holies shall be his, and what a man gives to the priest shall be his.” [i] The sages explain that this sentence means a man’s holy contributions are his to give to whichever priest he chooses. Another commentator suggests a deeper meaning: Because he has given this wealth away, he will become rich.

Although both of these explanations are certainly true, it seems obvious that the latter is telling us something more. What we give away we will keep. Every coin that you give away in this world to charity or to a holy purpose will be yours forever in the World to Come. And not only that, but in the World to Come, there will be no earning; we will not be able to earn another coin to give away. This means that the copper coin we gave away here will be made out of gold there. That is, its value will be immensely greater than it was here on earth.

The Vow of Abstinence

This week we also learn about the nazir. In the Temple days, when someone found himself (or herself) spiritually stymied, desperately wanting to grow and unable to see any apparent way to accomplish this goal, he could take upon himself a vow of abstinence. This vow was usually for a limited period of time (one month), and during this period of time he would strive to become more aware of God’s Presence.

There were a number of restrictions placed upon the nazir, such as not cutting his hair, not coming near a dead body and not drinking wine. After the period of abstinence was completed, he would shave his hair and offer up certain sacrifices in the Temple. One of these sacrifices was a sin offering. But what was his sin?

Our sages tell us that his sin was that he forbade himself wine. Wine in moderation can bring joy, and the nazir denied himself something that God has permitted, something that brings joy.

Our sages tell us that the Shechinah (God’s revealed Presence) can be found ONLY in joy. If you want to do penitence, if you want to fast and give up something for God, then give up your sorrow. Sacrifice your sadness and moaning. Slaughter them and place them upon the altar. Serve Him with joy and true appreciation for His having shown us His way. Then, not only will you not have to bring a sin offering, but you will bring an offering of thanksgiving instead. This is the successful way of Torah: a life of holy joy.

[i] Num 5:10

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

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Shavuos

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Tonight begins the Jewish holiday of Shavous. On Pesach (Passover), as part of the Passover Seder, we say "in every generation, a person must regard himself as if he left Egypt. On that day he must say to his son, it is because of this that Hashem our G-d took me out of Egypt". Every year we must remind ourselves that we, individually and collectively as the Jewish people, must again be worthy of being redeemed from Egypt.

As Shavuos comes, are we worthy to receive the Torah? Shavuos is intimately tied to Passover, the holiday without a date, rather it's a period of time from Passover (50 days). In essence, Shavuos is the culmination of Passover.

If I was worthy to leave Egypt, have I progressed since then, and am I now worthy to receive the Torah?

As the Jewish people come once again under attack, it's a good time to consider that. Will we trust in G-d and be worthy of his gift of the Torah? Even if we were not yesterday, today is a new day, a new chance for teshuvah, chesed, mitzvot, a day to take a step.

Chag Samayach,
Akiva

P.S. - In Israel, Tuesday night/Wednesday is the holiday of Shavuos, and outside of Israel Tuesday night through Thursday. We do not post during Holy Days nor on Shabbat. Normal posting will resume, G-d willing, Friday.

P.P.S - A friend emailed this video clip from CNN, visiting hell's workshop, where they engineer the best ways to kill innocents.

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Sderot Update - Holiness and Profane w/Metal Rain

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Ongoing live updates from Sderot, Israel, which has been under heavy constant bombardment from the Arabs in Gaza. This report from 5pm Israel Time, 10am US time. From an IM chat with Shlomo Wollins of IsraelReporter.Com, who lives in Sderot and has not evacuated.

It's been horrible today. I went to the funeral of the young woman, Shirel, who was killed yesterday (with a Kassam strike to her car, with her in it).

Not only was it sad and horrible, but a near riot when an Israeli politician imposed himself on funeral with a contingent of Yassam type security forces (making the path for him to take over the funeral). Bar-on. Why? Sick corrupt (censored).

Hundreds of security personnel, with a total attendance of only about 100 at the funeral! They argued right over grave....unspeakable. He was totally surrounded by shabak yassam goons. I was in their face, he just let it happen. Before he spoke, member of family looked at grave and asked for forgiveness that this guy was speaking.

Shirel died on way to get her mother a sweater. There was NO alert! In the middle of town..no alert...bled to death. The fact that she was killed without warning, her sister said that is what killed her, will really really spook even more people out of here.

They are making a tent city in Jerusalem for refugees. Sderot is really empty now, with yesterday's massacre and the Shavous holiday tonight. Yet, Jerusalem administration says, "We won`t let Gaydamak build tent city for Sderot residents."

Why? Evacuation of Sderot proves Gush Katif move was wrong.

Businesses are closing up, how long can they go without customers or employees while paying rent, supplies, electricity. Parents are asking ME (?) if school will re-open before summer. Kids have all these tests (especially high school, they will lose their diploma and chance for future jobs or education if they fial), they have to start enrolling elsewhere.

It is just so EMPTY here, more than last Shabbat. The local store owner here where I shop has been here 15 years. He is losing major money every day...business is down 80% I am sure. He asked me why I don't "barachim" (flee) to Jerusalem...I told him Sderot is holiest city today....he agrees.

But I know why people really leave on Shabbat/Chag. You are totally trapped if they start firing big. I am set up in my safe room (mini house bunker).

The dirt from the funeral doesn't wash off, if u know what I mean. All I can think is, here I am again (Shlomo was in Gush Katif and Amona) and how bad is this going to get. Hamas scored huge "victories" this week again.

I can't believe it, but Jewish people seem ok with total evacuation & shutdown of Sderot. Founded in 1955...Evacuated in 2007.

Gaza terror press is now focusing on Ashkelon. This battle is won and in their hands as they see it, and I am forced to agree. A serious ground operation in Gaza, which is only way to deal with this, is out of question (for the current government).

Update: A Kassam missile just fell nearby. Making my Shavuos preparations impossible.

Reminder, you can help with rent, food, and maintaining the Internet connection for these updates to the world. There's no work, no income, everything is paralyzed. Will you help Shlomo and his neighbors get by?


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The Yoke of Torah

by Reb Gutman Locks of the Old City, Jerusalem, Israel at Mystical Paths

On the holiday of Shavuos, we thank God for having given us the Torah. When someone tries to encourage someone else to follow the Torah and its mitzvoth, often they tell the newcomer, “You have to accept upon yourself the yoke of Torah.” Actually, we hear this quite often, especially if someone seems to be questioning the validity of the Torah.

When the “yoke of Torah” analogy is explained properly, no one has to be convinced to bring it upon themselves. The problem today is that many teachers of Torah are themselves following the Torah for the wrong reasons.

It is common to hear that if you follow the Torah, you will have a wonderful share in the world to come, that you will get credit in Heaven, that it is your duty as a Jew. Many try to sell the intellectually challenging aspects of studying the Torah. Some try to make you feel guilty if you do not follow its rules; after all, your grandparents did it. But none of these reasons are of interest to most beginners, and surely not to the younger generation.

Instead they should learn the truth of the yoke of Torah, and then they will be able to successfully share it with others.

A yoke, by its nature, does not increase an animal’s burden but rather reduces it. Even without the yoke, the same load must be pulled. Before the yoke was invented, the animal still had to plow the field. But then he pulled that heavy load with his teeth and neck muscles. Then some kind farmer figured out that if he would put a yoke around the animal’s neck, he could attach the plow to the yoke and then the animal could use its larger, stronger shoulder muscles to pull the load. The animal loved that yoke. It made his life so much easier.

The “field” in this illustration is life, with all of its requirements. Each of us has our individual, personal burdens that life seems to impose upon us. Each of us is born into this world, and then we travel through our individually allotted time span and then, the minute our allotment is over, each of us will die. No one escapes. With or without the yoke, as long as we are alive, we are going to go out into the field to find food and satisfy our other requirements.

The “plow” is our work to accomplish our goals, be it food for our families or finding ways to make the world a better place. We all go out into the field and plow.

The “yoke” is the Torah. With or without the Torah, we are going to have to go out into the field and plow. We have to make a living, raise families, and work to make our lives and the world a better place.

Look at just this one statistic, as we mentioned in the comments on Emor: Today in California, the divorce rate for secular marriages is an astonishing 67%. If you were about to go into a business and learned that the failure rate was 67%, you would never do it. In the same state, the divorcee rate for Torah-based marriages is perhaps 10%. If there were no other benefits than this, it would be worth following the Torah. A family that keeps the Torah experiences longer lives and enjoys warmer relationships. Elders are respected and children help each other. But this is just one of the many physical and emotional benefits to Torah observance.

There are also the tremendous spiritual benefits of knowing God in your life. Living a life of looking for ways to give instead of only to take.

On and on we see what a wonderful thing Torah observance does to our lives. Hey, there is even a promise for a great life in the next world, too. But even it there would not be such a thing as another world, right here and now there is a great reward to plowing with the yoke instead of with your head and teeth.

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Kedushah Online

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

There is much controversy in the 'ultra-orthodox' world over the Internet. As everyone knows, the 'net is filled with so much negative material. As such, much of the orthodox community stays away from the 'net, and much of the orthodox leadership strongly recommends keeping away.

Therefore, it came as a great surprise to find the first ever address by a chassidic rebbe specifically aimed at the Internet. Here at Lazer Beams: The Melitzer Rebbe, shlita, Blessings of Shavous.

A big yasher koach to Rabbi Brody and to the rebbe! (And don't think this was a simple decision, within the ultra-orthodox world the rebbe is sure to receive a lot of negative feedback for interacting with the 'net.)


One of the most holy and special places I have ever visited is Kever Yosef HaTzadik, the tomb of the biblical patriach Joseph the Righteous, son of Jacob. This tomb is located in Shechem (Nablus), as it says from the prophets... “And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, they buried in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph." - Joshua 24:32

The barbarians who inhabit Shechem today, destroyed Kever Yosef and murdered those standing guard at the beginning of the peace process. (You'd think somebody would have learned something from that, but no.) A few days ago, thousands made their way back, insisting on visiting this holy place though the government of Israel continues to do everything they can to avoid it.

Visit to Kever Yosef: Picture and Story here.

My own past experiences with Kever Yosef, Remembering Yosef and The Myth of Arab Nablus.

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The Reason for the Season

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

A personal note from Reb Nati...

There seems to be a lot of talk about what is happening in the news. Many are afraid and nervous, others just do not care.

The Tanach tells many things about what is happening right now, in this time. It's not just an historical account of what has happened, but an up to the minute account of what is happening, as well as forecast of will happen in the days to come.

All we need to do is to wake up from our comatose spiritual state. This is why there was mattan Torah, as Hashem knew that we would fall very far from Him. He told us what would be after we have entered the land and had been long in it. Also that we would be exiled, and He also knew that we would after much suffering would return. And that some of us would wake up. So the written Torah was given to us and it is here today to reeducate us. Kind of like a spiritual reboot.

(Yirmiyahu 9:11) "Who is the wise man who will understand this? Who is he to whom the mouth of Hashem speaks, that he may explain this? "For what reason did the land perish and become parched like the desert, without passerby?' But Hashem has said: Because of their forsaking 'MY TORAH' that I put before them; moreover, they did not heed my voice nor follow it. They followed the vision of their heart and they followed the Baalim, as their fathers taught them...

(v22) Thus says Hashem: Let not the wise man glorify himself in his wisdom, and let not the strong man glorify himself in his strength, let not the rich man glorify himself with his wealth. For only with this may one glorify himself- Contemplating and knowing ME, For I am Hashem Who does kindness, justice and righteousness in the land, for in these, are my desire, the word of Hashem. Behold, days are coming - the word of Hashem - When I shall deal with the circumcised, for [his] uncircumcision: with Egypt, with Yehuda, with Edom, with children of Ammon and with Moab, and with all those who dwell in the remotest corners of the wilderness; for all the nations are uncircumcised, and the House of Israel is of and uncircumcised heart.

(10:1) Hear the word that Hashem has spoken concerning you, Oh house of Israel. Thus said Hashem: Do not learn from the nations; do not learn from the ways of the nations; do not be frightened by the signs of the heavens, though the nations are frightened by them. For the practices of the nations are foolish... "

(11:3) Thus said the Hashem, G-d of Israel: cursed is the man who will not listen to the words of this covenant that I commanded your forefathers on the day I took them out from the land of Egypt... "Listen to my voice and fulfill the [Commandments], according to all that I command you, so that you will be a people for me and I will be a G-d for you, in order to fulfill the oath that I swore to your forefathers to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as this very day."

You see, we have forgotten who we are. We are the children of the king, we really are not like the rest of the nations. But we in vain try to resemble them and practice their deeds. But tonight is the Chag of Shavuos, the day we received the Torah. On this day we can receive it anew, we can choose to start anew, we can choose to follow the word of Hashem, we can start to alleviate the stresses and the pains of the redemption. We can choose to have Emunah and stop dealing with our lives and the world in the ways of the nations. You see, we as Jews are above the natural, we can pray out and change the very nature of the world, a power that the nations will never have. We don't have to fight with the weapons of the world. We have a 'sword and a bow', we have Emunah and Prayer, and with these we can overturn any decree. We have many promises to rely on...

(17:7) "Blessed is the man who trusts [has emunah] in Hashem, then Hashem will be his security. He will be like a tree planted near water, which spreads out it's roots along a brook and does not see when heat comes,"

When we trust in Hashem we lack nothing as we understand that all is from His hand and that which we receive is just what we need.

Heal us Hashem, and we will be healed, save us Hashem, and we shall be saved. We've counted 49 days and now we are about to receive the Torah anew, please wake up and seize this opportunity to start afresh, a total overhaul of the way we think and live, and perceive the happenings of the world. Look close and see His ever loving hand if each event. Choose to believe and trust in His divine Providence. Tonight is the first step in a new Emunah filled life, take it use it.

Gut Yom Tov, Chag Samayach,
Reb Nati

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Lebanese Battle, Gaza Battle

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

This is how the Lebanese deal with a terrorist threat to their country. Carefully notice the compliance with international law regarding protection of innocent civilians, and the careful targeting of the enemy. Live battle video, Tripoli Lebanon, today or yesterday. (Warning, mildly graphic war scenes.)



(In case anyone is unclear, there was no compliance.)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is "deeply concerned by the mounting number of civilian casualties from Israeli military operations in Gaza," a statement released by Ban's spokesperson said on Monday. He's not deeply concerned about mounting Jewish casualties. He's not concerned about Jews being pushed out of their homes and their lives being made a living hell. He's concerned about 'Palestinian' civilians and Israel defending itself.

He can take his concerns and go to #@))!!!

The UN chief recognized Israel's right to defend itself, but that he called on Israel "to abide by international law and to ensure that its actions do not target civilians or put them under risk." He didn't call on the 'Palestinians' to abide by international law and stop shooting rockets at Jewish civilians. He didn't call on the PA to ensure its actions do not put JEWISH civilians at risk. He's only concerned about 'Palestinian' civilians being at risk.

He can take his call and $@^% !# ()% &!$ V$$.

HYPOCRITES

(Source, YNetNews here.)

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Monday, May 21, 2007

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Sderot Update - Death & The Holiday

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Ongoing live updates from Sderot, Israel, which has been under heavy constant bombardment from the Arabs in Gaza. This report from 10pm Israel Time, 3pm US time. From an IM chat with Shlomo Wollins of IsraelReporter.Com, who lives in Sderot and has not evacuated.

It was a quiet day, only 10 incoming Kassam missiles or so. (10 is a QUIET day???) I was able to get out a bit and hang out with the national and international reporters. There's more reporters here on the street now, in full protective gear, than there are citizens.

Though the Kassam rate was slower than past days, a woman died today, struck by a missile. Olmert has his "body" now. (A comment on a statement from last week that he couldn't take action as Israelis weren't getting killed.) Now maybe he will go in further to Gaza, but with weak weak hand and predefined limits. "Civilian casualties" will give them ability (international political coverage, disgusting) to go.

(I asked, what's the local situation, besides the, r'l, death?)

People are unbelievably upset by today's death. Everyone who's left is hanging together, and everyone is affected.

There's two large supermarkets here. It's right before the Shavuos holiday, I went to the market and the store is EMPTY. Maybe 10 people in the whole store, and it's right before the holiday! How are people going to be ready to make meals for the holiday?

Very soon Sderot is going to be j
alte
ealjre;lj


me: ?

(no response)

Shlomo?

(no response)

SHLOMO?

(no response, extended period of time)

I picked up my phone and called him on his cell phone. He answers after many rings, out of breath.

What happened, you stopped responding?


There was another alert. I ran for my miklat (bomb shelter). From the moment of the alert, there's only 10 seconds or less. Can you hear me? The reception is bad in here.

I sleep in here now, with a helmet on. With the steel doors closed and the fan on high, I can get a few hours of sleep through the alerts and strikes. It's the only way to stay sane.

Reminder, you can help with rent, food, and maintaining the Internet connection for these updates to the world. There's no work, no income, everything is paralyzed. Will you help Shlomo and his neighbors get by?


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Sderot and the Navi

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

A brief thought on the situation in Sderot and the words of the navi (biblical prophets)...

What's going on is neither something new, nor a surprise. There will be a war before the final battle of Gog uMagog, as described in Yecheskal 38, where we crush the Arabs. If you note the list of nations that come against Klal Yisroel, the Arab nations and the plishtim (the Palestinians) aren't listed! Why is that?

Because Israel is pushed and pushed, and finally turns around and hits back, wiping out their nearby enemies permanently. Then there is a short break, Israel is described as being completely at peace.

But then, the world turns on Israel and the ultimate, the war of Gog uMagog comes upon us.

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Never Admitting ...

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

YNetNews Opinion - Martin Sherman (excerpted...)

• Initially the Left claimed that Israel should withdraw from the "territories" on the basis of a negotiated settlement "because there is someone to talk to" on the Palestinian side. However, when this proved unfounded, rather than admit error, the Left then insisted that Israel should withdraw unilaterally without negotiation "because there is no one to talk" to on the Palestinian side. So first the existence, and then the non-existence, of a Palestinian negotiating partner were invoked as the rationale for its policy of concession.

• Originally the Left claimed that Israel could afford to relinquish territory, because she was strong enough to contend with the risks involved in giving it up. Later when it was clear that conceding territory did not produce the desired results, rather than admit error, the Left insisted that Israel should continue to relinquish territory because she was not strong enough to contend with the risks involved in retaining it. So first Israel's strength, and then her lack of strength, were invoked as the rationale for its policy of withdrawal.

• Prior to the initiation of the Oslo "peace process" the Left averred that the terror attacks were the acts of extremists, precipitated by the frustration at the "lack of a peace process." However, after the initiation of the Oslo "process," when the terror attacks not only continued unabated, but escalated to unprecedented levels, the Left again refrained from admitting error. Instead, it now insisted that the "process" must continue; for now terror attacks were dubbed the acts of extremists, precipitated by a desire to halt the "peace process." So first the extremist anger at that absence of a "peace process", and then extremist anger at its presence, were invoked as the rationale for its policy of appeasement.


Politicians, Truth. Never found in the same room.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

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Sderot Update - Ghost Town, Metal Rain

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Ongoing live updates from Sderot, Israel, which has been under heavy constant bombardment from the Arabs in Gaza. This report from 12 midnight Israel Time, 5pm US time. From an IM chat with Shlomo Wollins of IsraelReporter.Com, who lives in Sderot and has not evacuated.

I just got back from Jerusalem. Believe it or not, I picked up flak jacket and metal helmet from a gemach (free loan society)!! How is that for mashal (example) about situation here? Do you have flak jacket gemach in the US? (chuckle)

Today was my birthday and I didn't even realize it until I glanced at a calendar. I had to use this flak jacket 3 times in first hour I got back. We just did a minyan (prayer quorum) in between bomb hits.

Sderot is in huge trouble. The city got black eye from which it may never recover last week. Now it has been an average of 15 missile hits every day in last days.

The evacuation of Sderot is equally as damaging to olmert as invasion of Gaza.

I am going around trying to give strength to few here. It is VERY hard. But the guy I buy food from every day, he said 'you are part of my family'. You can see there is some amazing things that happen in these situations. I speak to people all day about this. In cabs today, in shul, in stores, I say today in my birthday and I am from Sderot. But the situation is getting worse. It is getting really scary.

I hear that Sderot residents are burning tires and blocking Ashkelon junction. Wow, 100 burned tires in Ashdod.

Please post that we need funds. Rent, food, and maintaining the Internet connection for these updates to the world. There's no work, no income, everything is paralyzed. Please, can people help, yes me, and my neighbors get by?


With the IDF starting to hit Hamas houses, there is little doubt we're going to get hit very hard in the next few days. Please help us stay here and not abandon Israel.

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Curses & Blessings

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

As I'm in touch with my friend in Sderot, who's literally under missile bombardment for being a Jew, and working on finalizing the Jewish & Israeli Blog Awards (the winners will be announced tonight), I find my email address has been harvested by a notorious American anti-semite and I'm now receiving his "Peace Activism Alerts".

Today's alert exhorts the U.S. Xian community to abandon Israel and the Jews because, the previously censored portions of the Talmud are now exposed and describe (their deity) as being in Hell, suffering by being boiled in (materials we won't discuss here). Therefore, "It must be the height of insanity to think that probably millions of Xians at the behest of their sold-out leaders have sent money to these vile Antichrist Jewish extremists who boast of boiling (man-god) in (unmentionablely vile liquids)!"

Besides being a foul anti-semite and bigot of the worst sort, this man is also an idiot. Here's why... There are basically 3 reasons that Xians support Israel, and they are based on their belief system and reading of the 'bible':

1. "Those who curse you will be cursed, those who bless you will be blessed." For those who believe in a literal reading of the 'bible', this is understood exactly as it's written, that those who bless the Jewish people and Israel will receive G-dly blessings.

2. The prophetic writings of their books would seem to state that prior to their messianic era/moment/occurrence, the Jewish people must be restored to peace in Israel.

3. Those that, because of their moral system, truly believe in the common heritage and righteousness of the Jewish people's cause.

Now, the vile anti-semite in question would like to turn off people to Israel and the Jewish people. But he fails to understand enough of his own supposed religion to know much of the core driving factors are foundational to their form of xianity.

May those 'who curse you', be cursed.

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In Between?

Seraphic Secret has a really nice explanation of what's going on in Israel / Gaza / Sderot.

Check it out here.

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Motzie Shabbat Israel Update: Under Fire!

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Ongoing live updates from Sderot, Israel, which has been under heavy constant bombardment from the Arabs in Gaza. This report from 5am Israel Time, 10pm US time (Saturday night). From an IM chat with Shlomo Wollins of IsraelRepoter.Com, who lives in Sderot and has not evacuated.

Hard Shabbat. I think it was 17-18 Kassam missile strikes on eruv Shabbat...15 or more on Shabbat. We were nailed starting hour after Shabbat started. A parked car was hit on Shabbat...perhaps a house too. This place is deserted in biggest way. They (the PA's) will shoot fewer now....just enough to keep the city from living. Or they will stop for while....70% will come back....but for how long?

Major monies flowing in here from guilt-ridden American Jewish organizations, for shelters, camps, anything but an effort to replace the government which is the cause of this hell.

Everyone here knows now our lives are in the hands of Hamas. They can make Sderot hell on moment's notice, and there is nothing this government will do about it.

That feeling of hopelessness is overwhelming. Sickening. The bottom line is what a parent said, "We need a place where we can raise our kids in security." Right now, even if the missiles stop, that is a fantasy.

Schools are closed again. I haven't seen mail for half a week, or a garbage truck. Zero kids on street. On my street, there are maybe 2 or 3 people still here.

That's somewhere around 12,000 - 15,000 displaced Jews, driven from their homes and town. For half, that's for good (at least until a long-term stoppage of missiles). For the other half, that's a short term run, pending what happens.

About an hour into Shabbat I went out. It was insane....I was really afraid. One after the other, at least 5-10 hits with zero warning. Those are the most terrifying.

The constant terror of this is becoming real. My heart is literally starting to bother me. My stomach feels like an ulcer. Starting to investigate other places before I die of this.

It's not the fight, the risk, the insanity. It's the betrayal, the cowardice is killing me.

If Sderot empties out, Ashkelon is next. It's been hit many times in the last year.
----------

Other relevant reports:

IsraellyCool has a news roundup.

Haaretz reports The Government STOPPED Assisting in Sderot Evacuations????? "The Defense Ministry yesterday stopped the evacuation of Sderot after some 2,500 residents left the city, and many remaining citizens demanded action to protect them."

YNetNews reports Can't Do Anything, As It Might Hurt Them!!! "The military operations are running according to instructions. The hits of Hamas targets are accurate. The military is taking care not to harm the innocent population." Yes, BUT THE ENEMY ISN'T, SO WHY ARE YOU???

P.S. Shlomo needs your help to buy the gear needed to stay and survive!


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Friday, May 18, 2007

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Before Shabbat Sderot Update

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

With reports the IDF is doing something, I pinged Shlomo in Sderot for an erev Shabbat update...(live IM chats with Sderot resident)

me: How's the day, I hear the IDF is doing something now.

Shlomo: I hear nothing. They are doing nothing.

(You can hear incoming or outgoing fire in Sderot, Shlomo says he's heard no outgoing fire. So while there are lots of pretty pictures of IDF artillery moving into place, apparently so far it's just that, pretty pictures.)

Shlomo: A dozen more Kassam missile hits today. The town is dead...empty. At this point, Sderot is finished, or will be with one or two more barrages. I wouldn't be surprised if this starts on Shabbat again.

Shlomo: The video I took (of getting hit and knocked down as a Kassam landed next door, which you can view here) has been stolen and placed up on YouTube. It's run on a number of sites, with tens of thousands of views. But then what? NOBODY IS DOING ANYTHING. Does anyone care?

me: Thought you'd appreciate this, news says Olmert went to shul in Sderot last night. Right after he left, it was hit by a Kassam. (from The Muqata, here.)

Shlomo: Kassams are falling, NO ALERTS!

Shlomo: How could anyone in Sderot stand in the same shul with peretz/olmert???

UPDATE 1:

Shlomo: More bombs...can't finish pre-Shabbat.

me: Be well, stay safe! I guess Shabbat Shalom isn't quite appropriate.

Shlomo: Hi....everyone says that. I just went around with my guitar. I would say 70% of my neighbors are gone, if not more. Surreal...doing BBQ and running in and out for warnings. My minyan is gone..no services this Shabbat.

me: hmm. Did they at least leave the shul open?

Shlomo: This place is deserted...I think concern of looting is an issue.

Shlomo: Let's say 60% of the residents of Sderot left and another 25% left for Shabbat pending the situation. I just walked the streets with my guitar to encourage residents, saw about 10 people during a half hour walk. The press is not reporting extent of desertion.

UPDATE 2:

Video: Kassam hits gas station, missing fuel truck by mere seconds. B"H!
----

The Muqata is liveblogging Israel/Gaza situation reports, here.
IsraellyCool is also liveblogging Israel/Gaza situation reports, here.

P.S. Shlomo needs your help to buy the gear needed to stay and survive!


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Friday Early Morning Sderot Update

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Another update from Shlomo in Sderot...

Missiles have started again. At midnight. Sleep can no longer be found here.

Shabbat might be hell. They are about to unleash 50+ a day (imho).

The town has really emptied out. Thousands left in last few days, half my block seems gone. Mail has stopped. No garbage pickup. Life is stopping in Sderot.

I saw this happen (previously) in Gush Katif. It is tragic beyond words (a Jewish town losing it's life). Shabbat will be real empty. Many are taking off for Shabbat or leaving. Nobody wants to wait for next round, which will be 50 a day, or perhaps 100.

Hamas said today that no Sderot resident will be spared, and they should move to basements. But, they are talking to the wrong Jew. Now I am staying!

I am having a midnight BBQ. I lit the BBQ, take the first cold sip of a beer, and the missile warning starts! I think 3 hit...something was definitely hit, house or building. I never worried about dying during a BBQ before.

I can't believe how many have left. They had Sefer Torah dedication today. Seems it's what Jews do before they are driven out. Reminds me of Gush Katif.

It's so surreal having a BBQ during missile attacks.

P.S. Shlomo needs your help to buy the gear needed to stay and survive!


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Now that's a Rebbe story!

A l'chaim with the Rebbe, here at Circus Tent.

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SOS Israel


by Akiva at Mystical Paths

The sticker reads, "A Palestinian state is a catastrophe for Israel".

The Chabad associated Shleymius Haaretz (the whole or Complete Land Movement) and the new Maateh Haolami (Headquarters to Save Israel) has started a new campaign to remind everyone of the words of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

They have some limited material up in english, here. As well, they are the source of this incredible video, Yesh Din ve'Yesh Dayan (There is a Judge and there is Justice), which describes the personal and professional tradgeties that have befallen the leadership involved in the "Disengagement" from Gaza. See the movie here (IE only). (Hebrew only.)

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

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Sderot Update - Picture & Video

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

An IM update from Shlomo Wollins (of IsraelReporter.com) on the situation in his home town of Sderot, Israel...

It's over 50 Kassam missile hits since this attack round started yesterday. Last night we had 6 in one hour. It's become impossible to sleep, and risky even to go upstairs to take a shower. My neighbor, the lady widely reported hit yesterday, was in her shower when the Kassam hit right above, collapsing the roof and walls of the shower in on her. Her survival was a miracle (but she is critically wounded).

I just got back from Kassam fall a short time ago, at 5 am. Last night one hit an electric junction and knocked out electricity in the city. Electric workers, risking their lives, were able to reroute power after an hour or so.

The bomb shelters are open, but 1/2 are in terrible condition. There are literally only 56 fully functional shelters for 18,000 people. And many of those have insufficient air, water, and facilities.

The town is now a ghost town. Zero people on street, nothing, no kids, no parents, schools are closed. Only a very occassional car.

Hundreds evacuated yesterday. More will certainly go as soon as there's a break in the shelling. Many just drove away, like my neighbors on Pesach. They come back once a week. Tragic.

We are falling apart here. On the medical front, there is only ONE trauma expert for whole city. The UJC promised money for more, but never delivered. I assume Israel told UJC to back off and not help here. Yesterday a woman fainted when they ran to trauma center and found out IT has no protection (no armored roof nor sufficient shelters).

It seems we cannot rely on our government to help. Hashem will clean up the Jewish mess...and that is bad news.

P.S. Shlomo needs your help to buy the gear needed to stay and survive!


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The Many Are One

by Reb Gutman Locks of the Old City, Jerusalem, Israel at Mystical Paths

A dvar Torah for parshat Bamidbar (Numbers).

When Moshe was told to count the assembly of Israel, he came up with 603,550. This was just the men from the age of twenty and older. So, including the women and children, we estimate that there must have been about three million Jews following Hashem through the wilderness.

This gives rise to an interesting question about the mystical aspects of life. Many times a day we make blessings on the food we eat and then again after we finish eating. One of the after-blessings ends with the words, “Baruch Chei HaOlamim.” Although most observant Jews make this blessing many times a day, rare is the one who can translate it.

Some common mistranslations include, “Blessed is He Who gives life forever,” “Blessed is the life that lives forever,” “Blessed is He Who gives life to the Universe,” and such. The proper translation is, “Blessed is the life of all the worlds.”

From the normal human perspective, we see that there is one world and many lives. This blessing turns that idea upside down. The blessing says that there are many worlds [for instance, this world and the world to come, the ten emanations (sefirot) are called worlds, the upper worlds, and such], but this blessing states that in all of these worlds, there is only one life!

How can this be? That there are many worlds is understandable, but how can it be that there is only one life?

Picture a room with no doors or windows and a missing roof. The room is standing in an open field on a bright day. Now place a solid roof on the room and stand inside the room. What do you see? Darkness.

Cut four small holes in the roof, one shaped like a circle, one like a square, one like a triangle and one like a Jewish star. Now standing in the room, what do you see? You see the sunlight streaming into the room through those four holes. You see those four shapes in the ceiling and on the floor, and if there is even a tiny bit of dust in the air, you will see four columns of light, each a different shape.

Now with your right hand point to the square light, and with your left hand point to the circle light. How many lights are you pointing to? Did you say, “two” - the square light and the circular light? If you did, you were wrong. There is only one light in the room. The sunlight is one. The beams are four.

Now place another roof a few feet under that roof and cut 600,000 holes in it. Make each hole a different shape and place a piece of thin cellophane over each hole. Make each piece of cellophane a different color. Now standing under that second roof, how many lights do you see? You see 600,000 beams, each a different shape and each a different color, but still there is only one light.

This is how one life fills all. The One life fills each beam according to that beam’s unique requirements, the Jews, the gentiles, the animals and the plants. Actually, there is a soul in all things, even in the inanimate.

Now what is the practical application of this information? We should love and respect each other because in truth we share one life.

And what is the nature of this one life? It is the Holy One Blessed be He, the One and Only Life in all the worlds (Baruch Chei HaOlamim).

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

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Kever Shmuel HaNavi, zt"l

Original Photos by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Today is the yaretzheit of Shmuel HaNavi, zt"l, the biblical prophet Samuel. Prophet of G-d, annointer of kings, council of Dovid HaMelech, zt"l.

- The Tomb of the Prophet Samuel - Photo Set - Slideshow
- Shmuel's Hometown - Photo Set - Slideshow

08-27-Israel-- 139

Driving to Kever Shmuel





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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

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Video: He's Hit! Kassam hit in Sderot

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Video moved together with active IM chat during hit, Video and IM chat with Shlomo here.

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Incoming! HE'S HIT!

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

I'm sitting here, (apparently) warm and safe at a business meeting (ok, somewhat bored, but there's no physical danger in that). There's a presentation on the screen and someone droning on. My biggest concern, how soon to lunch.

I just got an IM ping from Shlomo in S'derot... (this is real time)

Shlomo: Hi.. how's it going today?

me: Ok at the moment, B"H.

Shlomo: Whoa! Kassam (missile) hit 30 seconds ago!

(dead air!)

Shlomo: Sorry, I ran for camera...got it on film..the noise in the background. Sounds like it hit something.

(How much experience do you need to know by sound what missiles are hitting?)

Shlomo: Another warning... Oy!! Missile hitting

me: Stay safe, enough photos, are you in a safe place?

(dead air!!! where is he??? no response to multiple pings!!!)

Shlomo: almost was just killle, kasssm ell 20 yard aawywera, help, househitnxt t12 me. 20 yards awy1!Q#!$34

me: YOU THERE, YOU OK???

Shlomo: no...near heartr atcck. har to dbeare beathe. oh my god. i t waa so close

Shlomo: i wil be ok.. i t waa so close. I have film maye oj hit... hans ahshkING

me: ENOUGH FILM, GO GET SAFE, call for help!

Shlomo: me peopl. r u seriouasdf. (incoherent?)

Shlomo: more missiles... ambulances beging peope to go home

me: ???????? I don't understand. Are you ok? If stuff is still coming, get safe!

Shlomo: have it. moment of hit. i have it....the film of hit...camera turned off right after hit...

me: should be something, but think maybe staying in one piece more important.

Shlomo: lol...i am zero pieces... going back.... I don't do boom.

Shlomo: another warning!!!!!!!!!!! runniig. threee more houses hit nearby
!!!!!!!!!!!! three more missiles that is... another hit nearby. 100s running from scene. this is about 5 in last 30 minutes.


(This is a real chat, being updated real time, right now (see time of post).)

S'derot. Israel. Peace. Let's give more back, it brings peace.

Update 1: Heard from Shlomo briefly by phone. He's shaken up, actually bleeding from the mouth from seriously biting his own tongue. Nearby neighbor critically wounded taken to the hospital.

6 missile strikes so far today. No Israeli response.

Update 2: Video from Shlomo Wollins, IsraelReporter.Com, Sderot, Israel, from today...


Update 3: Shlomo adds, "Three more missile strikes by 7:30 am....all without alerts!

P.S. Shlomo needs your help to buy the gear needed to stay and survive!


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UNIFIL in Lebanon, France, and the Coming War

by Aharon Hoffman at Mystical Paths

Le Figaro (French News) Reports - The Shi'i militia, Hezbollah, is rearming north of the River Litani. For its part, the IDF continues its flights over the Land of the Cedars: averting an incident detrimental to France's UNIFIL blue helmets will be one of Nicolas Sarkozy's (new French president's) priorities.

On three occasions in recent weeks, the Israeli Government have denied General Gadi Eisenkot, chief of the North Israel military region, authority to attack, as not far from the Syrian border with Lebanon, trucks carrying weapons for Hezbollah are arriving from Damascus. (Can you believe this? More dumb Israeli politician ideas, let them rearm and do nothing???) This time the satellite photos that the Israelis showed us seem conclusive," according to a diplomat close to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who has again voiced his "concern" about this forbidden traffic. (So the UN knows, has proof, but does nothing about the violations of UN Resolution 1701!)

Nine months after the "cessation of hostilities" between the IDF and the pro-Iranian Shi'i militia, the Jewish state does not, however, want to embark on another conflict with its neighbor. But how much longer can the fragile balance between the forces present in southern Lebanon survive? Each of the leading actors has now clearly asserted its posture. The Lebanese Army is growing bolder. On the other side, the IDF is strengthening its positions. North of the River Litani, Hezbollah is rearming. And, with its 12,500 men, the UN force (UNIFIL) is growing stronger. (Everyone I know is taking bets on when this next war starts. Is this situation the definition of UN success?)

There's plenty more in the article, but it's all the same, the Hezbollah builds up, prepares for battle, dictates to UNIFIL where it can patrol, what equipment it can use, what it can do, regardless of what the UN resolution says. And, the focus of the article...

The new (French) president will have to say whether or not a stiffer posture should be adopted vis-a-vis the Jewish state. But he will also have to authorize the procedure for opening fire, in the event of another Israeli "provocation" against French UNIFIL troops (such as flying drones to watch Hezbollah rearm). This is a highly sensitive political issue.

Note, not say whether or not to actually enforce the UN resolution, not whether or not to stop the Hezbollah from rearming and preparing for another attack on Israel. Rather, stopping Israel from preparing it's defense, gathering intelligence, and being able to respond to the next war.

Hypocrisy doesn't even begin to describe it.

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Jerusalem Shuk

Original Photos by Akiva at Mystical Paths






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Monday, May 14, 2007

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Kindergarten Lesson, Run for your Life!

Tears are streaming down my face...

Video: S'derot Kindergarten Lesson, Run for your Life!

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I apologize...

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

To all those events I attended where I grumbled, "this could have been better". To all those events I went to that I said, "I could have done this better." To all those events I stopped by where I thought, "Why didn't they do that? That's stupid." To all those I said to others, "That seems like a bad idea, or a bad way of doing it, why bother?" Especially to all those I went to where I thought, "They really didn't plan so well, they should have more people." ...To all those who organized and ran and worked those events, I apologize.

I attended a community event this past Purim with my family. After Megillah reading, they were serving some food and having a number of activities for the children. Going over to the food area, there were 2 people who were just overwhelmed by the crowd. For a change, I didn't grumble and complain about waiting, poor service or poor organization. Rather, I stepped around the table, asked what I could serve, and dove in. And that's what I should have done in all the above.

"In this age, the power of the individual defeats the power of the majority." Yes, one person can damage and destroy, and with the Internet and modern communications, that damage can be major. Yet, perhaps one can also save and build, and the majority defeated can be the one going in a negative direction.

Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.
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On Running the JIBs

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

I haven't posted much about the JIBs (the Jewish & Israel Blog Awards). Actually, I haven't posted much, because of the JIBs.

This started as a fun little community project in an area where I have some expertise (the technology part) and, being a JBlogger, was interested in making a success. It turned into a massive undertaking, with less active organizers than thought, and way more interested people than thought.

I've met (virtually speaking) some great people, and worked with people I wouldn't have otherwise. That's been fun and a pleasure. Building a site has also been great, I enjoy virtual building and working with the tools to make it happen.

I've been surprised at the level of interest, people's actual feeling of competition, and the incredible honestly of some particpants (email: "my little brother logged on and voted twice, can you subtract 1 vote from me please?")

I've been pleased that some JBloggers have been able to report real traffic impact from particpating. I've also found some new blogs to read myself.

I've been saddened by the machlokes, the disagreements. I guess it's no surprise, as many yidden have "the shul they won't daven at", that some people should feel the JIBs aren't perfect enough, or something happened last year, or they don't like somebody who's involved. But the strength and anger level of it has surprised me.

I've been angered by the vandals. Those who feel a need to physically attack the JIBs. Once with the web site hacked by Turkish Muslims, and a number of times with intentional vote hacking (people running automated systems to vote), which is still ongoing. While it's detectable, and we can adjust for it, it ruins the process for everyone. Which, of course, is their point.

I just spent the last 4 hours fighting that battle (and I mean walking through IP logs with a fine tooth comb). Why, I'm not even sure anymore.

It's hard to run a community event, extremely hard. Many have a complaint, but none are heading over to this side of the table to make a difference.

Many lessons learned.

Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.
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Sunday, May 13, 2007

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Is that being racist?

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

NY Post reports: CLERK RINGS UP N.J. JIHAD JERKS - HOW HERO HELPED TO STOP PLOT (excerpted for brevity)

Two men approached the store where videos could be transferred to DVD. They handed the clerk a tape and asked for transfer to DVD.

When the employees went into a back room and began the conversion, they saw (on the tape) a group of bearded men wearing "fundamentalist attire" and shooting "big, f-ing guns,". Throughout the tape the jihadists could be heard screaming "God is great!" The two employees "freaked out".

At first, the teenage clerk didn't know what to do. "Dude, I just saw some really weird s-," he frantically told his co-worker. "I don't know what to do. Should I call someone or is that being racist?"

The fellow employee tried to calm his friend and told him that if what he saw terrified him so much, he should tell the police. The teen first consulted with a manager before making the 911 call.


And that sums up the West's, and Israel's, challenge at facing barbarism with modern day political correctness. In the West, protecting ethnic rights, minority rights (and I say that as a Jew that's had to deal with it), is attempted to equally balance the majority right of life and liberty.

In Israel, the 'rights' of the 'enemy attacking civilian population' is equally balanced against the duty and responsibility to protect ones own civilian population.

In neither case does it work. When that clerk stopped and paused to consider if his actions might be racist (and note that no one else called, it was laid on the 'teen' clerk, not the boss), he assured that such an incident, G-d forbid, will occur.

Because someone else might just say yes, and it's safer to disregard it.

Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.
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Friday, May 11, 2007

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Mishnah Shabbos

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Boris asked, "I was wondering would ou be able to have Talmud postings or Mishnah posting in English?"

Well, it's really not the kind of focus we have regularly here. But, by special request, today only... Mishnah Shabbos 7.3 -

They (the Sages) stated yet another principle (around carrying, transferring from a private domain to a public domain on Shabbat):

Whatever is worth keeping (people consider of value or use), and people keep it as such, if one carried it out on Shabbat (even if he personally doesn't consider it of value or use and he doesn't normally keep it himself), one is liable for a sin-offering on it's account. (One qualifies has having violated Shabbat and must bring a sacrifice to atone for this, in the holy Temple in Jerusalem, that does not exist today.)

Whatever is not worth keeping, and people do not keep it as such, only he who had kept it is liable, if he then carried it out on Shabbat. (So if a person has something unusual that most people would consider of no value or use, but he does, if he carries it out on Shabbat, he's liable for a sin-offering, but other people, if they carried it out, would not be.)

(No halachic decisions should be made based on this post, consult your competant local orthodox rabbi prior to making any such decisions.)

Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.
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Legal Notices: Privacy, Terms, Opt Out. Comments

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Mystical Paths now has Terms of Service. Don't say we didn't tell you.

Terms: Here. Scroll down for all of them. Exciting? Not.

Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.
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Brigitte Gabriel

via email from a friend, well worth taking 10 minutes to listen to.

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A7 writes a story.

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

Arutz 7 / Israel National News turned the JIB interview I did into a story. Read all about it, here. If you listen to the interview (here) and then read the story, you start to get a feel for how the news gets...interpreted... by the reporter.

BTW, the Jewish & Israeli Blog Awards are now in the Finals voting. Stop on by and vote for the top Jewish blogs. No, Mystical Paths didn't make it to the finals.

Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.
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Web Development WAR Chat

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

What do you say when you're chatting (IM) with a friend...

- "How about the site, what do you think of the color and layout?"
+ "Oh, I like it, but the ads are annoying that way. Change the color..."
- "I just heard Kassam fall here I think... some explosion."
- ah....I think that color will be weird.....let me try it.
- second explosion...no red dawn alarm


Real life in S'derot, Israel, where being a Jew and being a walking target is just...normal????

Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.
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Thursday, May 10, 2007

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Not Alone.

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

For discussion...

From HaYom Yom, entry of Iyar 22 (written by the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe):

Several of the early chassidim had a Farbrengen sometime between 5544-47 (1784-87) and the core of the discussion was this:

The Rebbe had accomplished something novel - that we are not alone. At one time, the Master - Rosh Yeshiva or Talmudic sage - was "alone" and his disciples were "alone." The Chassidic way instituted by the Rebbe is a tremendous Divine achievement, that the Rebbe is not alone, nor are the Chassidim alone.


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Anti-Semitic Google?

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

I was searching for Jewish Music sites recently on Google, and this interesting little note popped up as the leading site-ad:

Offensive Search Results
We're disturbed about these results
as well. Please read our note here.
www.google.com/explanation

which leads to this, umm, interesting explanation...

If you recently used Google to search for the word "Jew," you may have seen results that were very disturbing. We assure you that the views expressed by the sites in your results are not in any way endorsed by Google. We'd like to explain why you're seeing these results when you conduct this search...

And of course, they go on to explain that it has nothing to do with Google and everything to do with people who publish bad stuff that Google automatically indexes.

But, I looked at that URL, which has no site depth, and said, just "Jew"? So I searched for Arab, Muslim, Islam, Christian, and others, including a series of offensive racist words.

Nope, no such warning or explanation. Which means, if one searches the world for offensive anti-race web sites, the #1 concern and result is for Jews. And there is no #2.

Esav hates Yaakov. Apparently it doesn't matter he knows Yaakov, has ever met Yaakov, or only heard a rumor or legend about Yaakov. He still hates him.

Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.
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